comments

Placer County urges residents to spend ‘a day at the dump’

Why seeing how Placer garbage is sorted would be interesting
By: Leah Rosasco, Journal Correspondent
-A +A

 

Materials Recovery Facility Tours
What: A firsthand look at Placer County’s all-inclusive recycling 
program
When: Monday through Friday. Call ahead to schedule time
Where: 3033 Fiddyment Road, Roseville
Cost: Free                          
Information: Contact Stephanie Ulmer at (916) 543-3985 or visit www.wpwma.com/
events.html 
 

There is no shortage of fun things to do in Placer County such as hiking, checking out local museums and art galleries, and visiting the dump. Yes, the dump.

In this case the “dump” is actually the Materials Recovery Facility in Roseville, a high-tech recycling facility where the public can see firsthand what happens to their garbage once it leaves their homes. The 177,000 square-foot facility, which is owned by the Western Placer Waste Management Authority, was built in 1995 and currently diverts approximately 50 percent of the material it receives away from the landfill

Eric Oddo, Environmental Engineering program manager at the facility, said most people who tour the facility are impressed by what they see and learn. 

“I’ve probably given tours to a thousand people over the years and many of them come in with a cynical attitude, but I think only two have actually left with a cynical attitude,” Oddo said. “It’s really amazing what goes on here.”

While many communities use multiple bins, Placer County uses one bin for household trash including recyclables, all of which eventually ends up at the facility. Each day more than 800 tons of garbage is delivered to the facility and recyclables and non-recyclables are sorted by hand and mechanically. Because people don’t sort at home, Oddo said, they sometimes doubt that the recycling is happening.

“People need to realize we do recycle, we just do it all here,” Oddo said.

Recyclable materials such as paper, plastic, metal and glass are sorted by size, type and color using an intricate network of equipment ranging from basic conveyor belts to complex devices that use magnets to pluck soup cans and other metals out of a steady stream of garbage as it whizzes by. 

Raeanne Sarti, a teacher at Spanger Elementary School in Roseville, established the facility as a field trip for first graders four years ago to teach her students about their community.

“We go to the MRF to see what recycling looks like where we live and to see what the MRF employees do for us,” Sarti said.

Sarti said her students are always surprised by the amount of garbage at the facility and by the fact that people sort the garbage for recycling.

“A lot of them have been to the dump with their dads but they never knew what happened to it after that,” she said. 

Sarti said her students’ favorite stop on the facility tour is usually the compost piles, where the county’s green waste is processed and eventually sold to landscapers and plant nurseries.
 
“We would go in January so the compost piles were always steaming and warm and the kids could see it working,” she said. 
 
For Sarti, the most amazing aspect of the facility is how efficient and clean the operation is.
 
“They are literally taking every piece of garbage and finding a use for it,” she said. 
 
Materials Recovery Facility tours are offered to schools, community groups, and members of the general public Monday through Friday. Stephanie Ulmer, Junior Engineer with the management authority, said tours generally last just over an hour and can be given to groups of up to 30 people, although children under the age of 6 are not permitted on tours. Ulmer said people interested in touring the facility should also be prepared to meet certain safety requirements while at the facility including no open-toed shoes, no strollers or babies, and people must be prepared to wear hard hats and vests at all times.
 
“We encourage people to come out and see what we do here, but this is a working facility and we need to ensure the safety of our employees and our visitors,” Ulmer said.